Primary vs. Secondary Sources
When conducting research for your assignment, your first step is to gather information and evidence from a variety of sources. Using a combination of primary and secondary sources can help you build a strong argument for your assignment. No matter what field your are researching, whether the social sciences, or the humanities, the ability to distinguish between primary and secondary sources is essential.
These are accounts of an event, written by someone who experienced or witnessed the event in question. These original documents are often diaries, letters, memoirs, journals, speeches, manuscripts, interviews and other such unpublished works. Primary sources may also include published pieces such as newspaper or magazine articles (as long as they are written soon after the fact and not as historical accounts), research reports in the natural or social sciences, or original literary, art, or theatrical works.
Examples of Primary Sources:
A secondary source contains commentary on or discussion about a primary source. The most important feature of secondary sources is that they offer an interpretation of information gathered from primary sources.
Secondary source materials, then, contain information that has been interpreted, commented, analyzed or processed in such a way that it no longer conveys the freshness of the original primary sources. These are usually in the form of published works such as journal articles or books, but may include radio or television documentaries, or conference proceedings.
Examples of Secondary Sources:
But in university-level research, it gets a little more complicated. The meaning of these terms differs depending on your program of study and the context in which it is used.
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